David Granger: Esquire 75th Anniversary Cover ‘a Beginning’

esquire090808.jpgAfter months of anticipation, Esquire unveiled its 75th anniversary issue — complete with E Ink technology on the cover — this morning at Borders in Columbus Circle. In a cutout on the front, the words “The 21st Century Begins Now” blink in various configuration.

Kevin O’Malley, Esquire‘s vice president and publisher, introduced the magazine. In the span of his five minute speech, he called it “a milestone,” a “game changer,” and a “new and truly revolutionary idea for magazines” whose “impact will resonate” throughout the industry. We were impressed.

O’Malley then introduced Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger, who was less effusive in his praise but still obviously excited about the debut. (The editorial content of the magazine looks amazing. More on that in a later post.) “I consider the cover… to be a beginning,” the editor told 50 or so assorted media people in attendence. “This time, it’s cool, it’s a novelty but it can be a stunning enhancement to print.”

So how long has this cover been in the works?

Kevin O’Malley loves this cover

Granger said he’s been aware of E Ink for seven years since deputy editor Peter Griffin brought it to his attention. They considered doing a collaboration with the company previously for the Genius issue in 2002, but it was “impossible.” Granger and O’Malley began discussions about using the technology, which can also be found in Amazon.com’s Kindle, for the 75th anniversary issue roughly 18 months ago.

Hearst printed 100,000 issues — available only on the newsstand for $5.99, a $2 increase from normal cover price — in part due to economics but also because of the difficulty of the process. “100,000 is to me a miracle… It’s been exhausting,” Granger admitted.

The batteries will last for roughly 260 days and can be recycled like any other battery. Granger said Esquire put a notice on its Web site detailing this message. The magazine contains no additional toxic materials.

He also discussed his plans for future uses of E Ink. He believes the next iteration of the E Ink cover will hit newsstands in the first half of 2009, but he’s looking even further ahead. “I hope before long I’ll be able to update content during the month that [the issue] is on the newsstand,” Granger said. Now that’s some Big Brother shit.

Blurry David Granger